Expanding business opportunities could attract more island youth to the mainland
Authorities recently introduced a new policy that provides more opportunities for Taiwan residents who are willing to establish businesses on the Chinese mainland.
The move is the latest effort to encourage the island's people, especially the younger generation, to find jobs or start businesses on the mainland.
The policy will help ensure that they enjoy the same treatment as mainland residents, Zhu Fenglian, a spokeswoman for the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, said at a news conference last month.
As of March 16, Taiwan people can register and operate individually-owned businesses in 122 sectors on the mainland, including cereal crop farming, fruit planting and beverage manufacturing. Previously, they were only allowed to run businesses in 24 sectors.
Taiwan residents may also run businesses in 27 pilot areas for the innovative development of services across the mainland, including in Beijing, Shanghai and many provincial capitals, according to a notice jointly released by the Taiwan Affairs Office, the Ministry of Commerce and the State Administration for Market Regulation.
By registering businesses in pilot areas, Taiwan residents can enjoy better career opportunities, Zhu said.
The new policy is an expansion of three others unveiled in 2007, 2011 and 2015 to encourage Taiwan residents to seek self-employment on the mainland.
By the end of last year, about 10,000 individually-owned businesses had been registered by Taiwan residents on the mainland, according to statistics from the market regulator.
The new policy has been expanded to cover more sectors, including the planting of vegetables, fruits, edible fungi and other horticultural crops, as well as the manufacturing of candy, chocolate and beverages.
Entertainment agencies, pet services, translation services and training centers for artistic activities like pottery and painting were also added.
There are many sectors in which Taiwan people have developmental advantages, and they are very interested in starting their own enterprises, Zhu said.
"The policy will provide more opportunities for Taiwan compatriots, especially people from the grassroots and young people, to find jobs, start businesses and realize their dreams," she said.
Since the policy was launched, young people from Taiwan in various provincial-level regions including Beijing, Shanghai and the provinces of Jiangsu, Guangdong, Fujian, Zhejiang and Hubei have consulted local authorities about it, according to the Taiwan Affairs Office.
On March 18, a young Taiwan man in Kunshan, Jiangsu, obtained a license to open a business. On March 29, another young Taiwan compatriot in Wuhan, Hubei, also got a license, the office said.
After the introduction of these policies in recent years, many young people from the island have crossed the Straits to try their luck on the mainland.
At the end of 2014, Fan-Chiang Feng, from Taoyuan, Taiwan, resigned from his company on the island and came to Xiamen, Fujian, to look for entrepreneurial opportunities.
With the idea of attracting more Taiwan youths to open businesses on the mainland, he collaborated with a partner in Xiamen in 2016 to set up the Qida Straits Youths Entrepreneurial and Incubation Center in the city, which provides services for Taiwan startups on the mainland.
About 20,000 young people have come to the mainland to visit, study, intern, work or start businesses through activities organized by the center. Since September, about 10,000 people from both sides of the Straits have participated in the center's online exchange activities, according to Fan-Chiang.
The 41-year-old said the new policy has lowered the threshold for Taiwan youth to start businesses on the mainland.
He added that an individual from Taiwan can apply to start a business by following simple steps, and there is no capital requirement, so the cost to enter the mainland market is low.
"Comparatively, it's quite difficult for young graduates to set up a company, because they need to consider which industry to choose, where to rent an office and related costs. There are many things to worry about," he said.
Fan-Chiang said Taiwan youths are well suited to careers in service industries, such as tea shops, pet services and entertainment agencies, which are among the sectors added to the policy.
Many pilot areas are cultural and tourism destinations with developed service industries, including Hangzhou in Zhejiang and Suzhou in Jiangsu, he said. These cities need talent in the fields of cultural and creative design, catering and e-commerce, all of which Taiwan youth are suited to, he added.
With the new policy, they can come to the mainland first, choose a field and a mainland city, and make friends and adapt to mainland life, Fan-Chiang said.
"If their businesses are successful, they can develop them. If they find it difficult to manage, they can find a local partner or just find a job," he said.
Fan-Chiang said cooperation between Taiwan youth and their mainland counterparts is quite important to success. His team now has about 30 people, half from the island. Each project will involve a Taiwan employee and a mainland employee working together to ensure that cross-Straits activities progress well.